Save Money on Groceries: 5 Tips for Cutting the Weekly Shopping Bill
These days, saving money is at the forefront of the minds of many people. While cutting back on luxuries and optional expenses is unpleasant but possible, food is not an optional expenditure. Saving money on groceries by stretching every dollar as far as possible will do much to give some breathing room in the monthly budget. While most people are familiar with coupons and store sales, there are several tips and tricks to the practice of saving money on groceries.
Read on for five helpful hints on getting the most out of your food shopping dollar.
Tip 1: Never shop without a list.
Shopping without a list is the number one foe of saving money on groceries. Without a firm plan in place for what is to be purchased, many shoppers will submit to impulse, buying items that are not necessarily needed or firmly fall into the “luxury” category. Also, a shopping list can be used to keep track of what is running low in the house, avoiding purchases of duplicate items when an adequate supply already exists. Create a weekly shopping list from the store circulars sent out every week. Many stores also often these circulars for viewing online, detailing what is on sale and what specials are being offered. Look through these circulars and plan meals around what is being offered at a significantly lower price than usual. Don’t hesitate to select items from several different stores if the prices are good. Stopping at more than one store these days is hardly uncommon, as more and more people look to save money on groceries. Once at the store, stick very closely to the list. When saving money on groceries is the primary goal, the backbone of the plan is the shopping list.
Tip 2: Match Coupons with Sales.
Coupons are a powerful tool in the arsenal of any shopper looking to save money on groceries. Clip them religiously, and keep an organized file by type and expiration date. Compare the coupon collection with the weekly sales circulars, looking for opportunities to double or sometimes even triple the money you save on groceries. Also keep apprised of which local stores double and triple coupons and on which days this occurs. For those practiced at saving money on groceries, combining sales with doubled coupons often results in heavily discounted or even free items. Though this habit takes a bit of legwork and occasionally, a large time commitment, it is an essential tool in saving on groceries. Regular combining of coupons and sales can lead to savings of 30% or more on the weekly grocery bill! With practice, the amount of money a shopper can save on groceries only gets higher.
Tip 3: Stock Up Sensibly…
Sometimes, an offer comes along that seems almost too good to be true. Even the savviest of shoppers may be tempted to buy six, eight or twelve of a deeply discounted item, mistakenly thinking that stocking up is always a great way to save on groceries. In truth, while stocking up is a great way to save money, it is not always the best options. There are several points to consider when faced with one of these unbelievable deals. Will the product keep? Frozen and dry stock items will last, but fresh produce and dairy items will not. Throwing away spoiled food is a waste of money, no matter how cheaply the food was acquired. Is there space to store the item? Stocking up make sense if you have somewhere to put the items. If other items have to be thrown away to fit, it is not a savings. Lastly, will it get used? Buying something simply because the deal was too good to resist does not result in saving money on groceries if it is not a regularly purchased item. If the item would not ever be purchased were it not on sale, then it is actually an unnecessary expenditure disguised as a savings.
Tip 4: …But Stock Up Often!
While stocking up is not the best choice 100% of the time, it is an effective method in saving money on groceries. The most important items to stock up on are canned goods, meats and, oddly enough, frozen convenience products. When canned goods and meat are offered at a deep discount, storing or freezing will preserve the items until they are needed. As they are sure to get used, stocking up on these items is essential in saving money on groceries, taking advantage when prices are low. But what about those convenience items? The frozen foods section of the grocery store is often the most deceptively expensive – frozen dinners, snacks and other food items are referred to as “convenience foods” because they exchange time for money.
Conventional money saving wisdom would have a shopper avoid these items. However, in these busy times, sometimes microwaving chicken nuggets or defrosting fish sticks for the family is the only option next to hitting a drive through. Additionally, having these items in the freezer as occasional “emergency stores” can help extend a week’s grocery shopping just a few days longer. For those in serious need of saving money on groceries, having a few convenience items stored in the freezer for when the next paycheck is a few days away can be a lifesaver. The trick to saving money on these grocery items is to only buy with coupons, on sale. When the deal is good, buy as many as is reasonable. The initial upfront expense eventually pays for itself, stretching the meal plan and grocery dollar a day or two here and there as needed. While it may seem crazy, these frozen items are key to saving money on groceries.
Tip 5: Take Advantage of Every Offer
No one likes junk mail, whether through snail mail or email. Signing up for offers left and right often leads to an inundation of advertisements and other offers through the mail that can seem impossible to wade through. However, also often included are coupons. Building a store of coupons is absolutely essential to saving money on groceries. The minor inconvenience of sorting through junk mail can be solved with a separate email account for these offers or a recycling bin near the door for paper mail. When the goal is to save money on groceries, no offer is too small. Signing up for store cards, volunteering for surveys and joining mailing lists are often excellent options for receiving coupons through mail and email. When every penny counts, every offer is valuable. Set aside weekend time to sort through the various offers and join websites dedicated to deal finding to view and share discounts and coupons with others.
Many people view clipping coupons, pouring over sale circulars and making shopping lists to be a chore. The truth is, though, once a shopper begins to become practiced at spotting deals and taking advantage of freely offered sales and coupons, the amount of money wasted in the past starts to seem like a staggering loss. Fortunately, by following the tips above, anyone charged with doing the household grocery shopping will start to see a significant decrease in the amount spent on groceries from week to week. Saving money on groceries is no longer an optional exercise left to housewives and retirees. The need to save money on groceries is a common issue, with many resources, tools and options for those who choose to use them.
One last bonus tip:
Find a group of like-minded friends with whom to share ideas on saving money on groceries. Exchange inexpensive recipes and meal plans and get to know each other’s likes and dislikes. Make a habit of passing unused coupons along to friends interested in saving money on groceries, and ask that they do the same. With support and exchange of ideas on the best ways to save, soon saving money on groceries will be second nature.